Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, California-based company at: hpd.honda.com and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD.
Your questions for Robin should continue to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org We cannot guarantee we’ll publish all your questions and answers, but Robin will reply to you. And if you have a question about the technology side of racing, Robin will pass these on to Marshall Pruett and he will also answer here.
Q: I have waited a long time for this new full-time TV partnership to happen. Do you feel this is the biggest news for IndyCar in the last 20 years? Maybe now we can grow the sport even bigger, with a real [broadcasting] home for it, and a network that will push the product. I dream of the day when IndyCar will be as big as NASCAR, or even go past it. NASCAR is hemorrhaging ratings and attendance, while IndyCar is slowing getting better on both fronts. I haven’t seen this many good things happen to IndyCar since I became a fan in the early 2000s. We have a growing field with new teams, we have cars that look right, we have a great TV partner,and I’m hoping they will have a great new title sponsor soon. Things are looking good!
RM: It’s right up there, because you have a network presence again (eight races) and NBC excels in big events, so it will promote the hell out of the Indianapolis 500 and possibly offer some other in-season programming. IndyCar isn’t going to overtake NASCAR anytime soon, but it should see the gap closed with NBC’s reach.
Q: As an IndyCar fan, I can definitely feel that momentum is on our side. The new car is great looking, and seems to be difficult to drive. That should make the on-track product very entertaining, and now we have a new TV deal to look forward to, including broadcast TV. It’s my understanding in the “stick and ball” sports that the majority of the revenue comes from the TV contracts. Will the new deal that was just signed do anything to help grow the purses at the races through the season? It would certainly help fill the fields race-to-race, and my hope is that there could end up being a purse large enough at Indy to have 40 cars show up in May and have a true, compelling, Bump Day again.
Jeremy in Arlington Heights
RM: I don’t see it affecting the purses, but I do think that NBC’s clout and reach could help IndyCar in finding a new title sponsor and that could enhance the Leader’s Circle Program.
Q: I saw your RACER article “IndyCar’s prayers are answered”, and despite a hellish day here at my office, feel compelled to write you a fan letter. The article was outstanding, a wonderful synopsis of IndyCar coverage over the years, and in my view, absolutely bang-on correct in every comment. Thankfully, I watched St Pete at home by myself as I was swearing (I don’t use profane language often) for two hours at the TV watching the “Always Bad Coverage” of the race. One thought came to my mind this week with the NBC announcement was that IndyCar racing is coming back to its best days (in recent times ,CART during the 90’s) and NBC are without question the right people to help this along.
Mark Kidson, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
RM: First, thanks for the kind words. I just thought it was important to remember that ABC did make a significant contribution to growing Indy’s legacy in the ’70s and ’80s, and you could tell it cared by the star power it sent to the race every May. But there is no argument to which group has clearly taken the lead in the past decade, and NBC seems to treat its properties like one of the family.
Q: After listening to Marshall Pruett’s interview with NBC honcho Jon Miller, I can only think of three words: Christmas in March!
Vincent Martinez, San Gabriel, CA
RM: When you think the NASCAR contract is up after 2020 and IndyCar on NBC goes through 2021, it bodes well that Mr. Miller is so positive about the future.
Q: Great news on the IndyCar television deal! Fans can now look forward to a full season of professional and very knowledgeable broadcasts without listening to the mundane bickering of the other network crew. You guys do an excellent job. Congratulations! I only wish it started this season.
Steve, Millville, N.J.
RM: I didn’t run every letter [about NBC] because there was such a volume, but your sentiment is the common theme among IndyCar fans. They know the sport and they want to be informed and entertained – not bored to death.